When the Wests Tigers announced at the end of the 2020 season that they were not going to offer club legend Benji Marshall a new contract – most believed the icon’s career was finished.
The Kiwi legend had offers from the English Super League.
He knocked them back.
Benji Marshall wasn’t done.
There were some bites on the line from rival clubs but nothing could get done.
The perfect, most romantic finish for Marshall, would have been another season at the struggling Wests Tigers who are fighting a constant battle to find themselves and what they stand for despite everything the magical playmaker had done for them.
Identity has always been an issue for Wests Tigers.
Wayne Bennett always knew he had the money to slide Marshall into his squad for 2021. But he didn’t chase Benji. Didn’t give him a chance. A breath. An inkling.
The old cowboy sat there in his old shack, chewing on tobacco, waiting for Marshall’s footsteps.
Eventually it was Marshall’s lovely wife that conned him into calling Wayne.
The rest is history.
In round one at AAMI Park against the Melbourne Storm, the Rabbitohs looked clunky and struggled with the extra half on the paddock.
There were more question marks than Jim Carrey in a Batman movie.
But now it’s clicking.
The Rabbitohs are peaking with legitimate superstars in all the right positions.
And then, after all that, they’ve got Benji Marshall.
Wests Tigers fans could be, and quite rightfully, wondering why they had to let Marshall go.
It’s the impossible question about that club.
They need to start again and begin a new chapter but they also desperately needed Marshall as well.
No win for Wests Tigers.
Let’s give them a break.
They made a choice and moved on.
Some will also argue that Marshall couldn’t do what he is doing at Souths in 2021, in the system that he’s in, if he was still at Wests Tigers.
And that’s an absolute fact.
But is that Marshall’s fault or his previous club’s fault?
Wests Tigers fans should be happy for Marshall.
Sometimes we forget what he went through after his incredible debut in rugby league.
Countless injuries, media and fan scrutiny, the Sydney bubble, a club that never replaced Scott Prince.
And yes, he left to play rugby union.
Yes he came back and signed with St George Illawarra.
But he’s still Benji.
Some of it was in his control and most wasn’t.
You’re a bum if you don’t want to see Benji win a premiership with the Rabbitohs in 2021.
It’s just life.